Unlike ordinary black tea which is made from multiple numbers of tea tree, Single Tree Black Tea means it is the micro lot of tea produced from one single tea tree. I really wanted to make black tea from single tea tree, because I have tasted the raw pu-erh tea made from single tea tree, and I was fascinated with depth of the taste and the rich drinking sensation on palate.
As far as I know, black tea is unprecedented in China. I am proud that it is probably the first attempt in the world. The reason why there is no single tree tea for black tea is that the production equipment for black tea is often in a large-scale, including a dryer, and it is technically impossible to make a single tree black tea of several kilograms. One big old tea tree normally can only produced several kilograms of dry tea after the process, which is too little quantity to run the production of black tea. So, I repeated experiments in the tea production area with our tea maker, and succeeded a method that can produce black tea even in small lot.
After many experiments and optimizing the temperature and time, I was able to make my ideal black tea that gives a sweet scent reminiscent of dried fruits with sugary note. When you think of black tea, you can imagine a gorgeous scent, but in the case of single-stock tea, the depth of the scent is unusual, so it feels like the scent permeates the back of your throat. It may be better to describe it as tea that you can enjoy the aroma with your body. The liquid itself is very thick, and it feels like it soaks into the body and is taken into the blood. I think it's just "black tea that you can enjoy with your body." The aftertaste is extremely strong and the sweetness remains in the mouth for a while. Since it is made from raw materials that are prominently rich in minerals, it is also suitable for aging, and I think that it will form a more unique scent if it is left to rest for several years.
Why isn't the name "single-tree tea" famous despite it is of ultra-high quality? Even if you look at a tea book, you rarely see the name "single-tree tea". It has to do with the fact that single-tree tea is very rare. The demand for single-tree tea is unusually high, and it is often sold out before it leaves the producer's factory, so it's hardly found outside its origin production site.
In recent years, it is quite common for buyers to come to the tea plantation and they buy the fresh tea leaves before the tea picking is finished. Many single-tree teas are bought by enthusiastic collectors of tea, business owners, and other people who emphasizes on quality. The tea is sold out locally and rarely appears on the tea market, so it can be said that Single Tree Tea is like a phantom tea for Chinese tea lovers living overseas. It is a privilege of us who stay in Yunnan for a long time to purchase single tree tea.
Dan Zhu pu-erh tea is collected only from the single tea tree
In tea making, normally the fresh tea leaf is collected from multiple numbers of tea trees. The tea garden in Yunnan does not consist of the homogeneous age of tea tree unlikely to tea gardens in Japan, India or Taiwan. It consists of various kinds of tree such as old tea tree, younger tea tree, some of them grown under the shade while other expose to direct sunshine, some of them grow faster while some grow slowly. As tea is collected from entire garden, the quality, flavor and taste are averaged out.
The Dan Zhu tea is totally different from regular tea. It is exclusively made of the single and a selected tea tree. We collected tea only from the old tea tree aged about a few hundred years old. The yield from a big tree was about 5-8kg. No doubt, Dan Zhu tea gives a very distinctive taste and characteristic.
Ye Fang Dan Zhu Tea
In early spring of this year, during our stay in Yunnan, we spent a lot time venturing from mountains to mountains of South West Yunnan (near Myanmar) to look for the tea bush that was grown without fertilizer and pesticide. These areas consist of many villages that altitude is as high as 1900-2200m. In particular, we looked for the tree left in the wild for a long time. In Chinese, it is called Ye Fang tea garden (野放茶). Ye Fang means, “left in wild”. These Dan Zhu teas give an extraordinary long-lasting aftertaste. The finishing of the flavor is extremely long and the taste is very deep.
Every Dan Zhu tea has different genetic trait
In Yunnan, the old tea trees were all grown from seed. Following the Mendelian inheritance, each tea tree carries different genetic trait. For example, it has a distinctive character in terms of shape, color, size of leaf, flavor and taste. Some of the tea trees have undergone natural mutation and it gives an interesting flavor.
A well-trusted relationship made a good outcome
To produce the ideal quality of Dan Zhu tea, there are three important things to look into:
1. Find the tea tree that age is old enough and grown under the ideal environment.
2. Find the owner who is willing to sell their fresh tealeaf to us.
3. Strictly manage the processing to ensure no cross-contamination between different teas.
The reason that we succeeded to obtain the ideal tea is that we worked with the tea manufacturer who is a skilled tea producer mastering both the process and production management.
In the past eight years, every year in early spring we consistently visiting Yunnan and staying there for a month. Through our years of tea expeditions, we are very clear about the ideal tea production area, and we have built a trust relationship with tea manufacturers after many years of collaboration. The harvesting date was carefully set after a continuous good weather. It required several farmers to pluck the fresh tealeaf and processed it in a day to make a specific batch of Dan Zhu black tea.
The tea leaves of Dan Zhu gives very identical characteristic in terms of the shape, the color and size. None of them are exactly the same. It has a different drinking sensation in terms of body, aftertaste and some extent of flavor too.